Week 10 is upon us, and the bunched-up AFC shows no signs of anyone running away from anyone else anytime soon.
Meanwhile, DeSean Jackson is expected to make his debut for the Raiders, Cam Newton could play for the Carolina Panthers, and Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers are expected to face off in Green Bay.
In other words, no shortage of storylines to follow.
Here are four:
Bills QB woes
The 5-3 Bills are averaging just 16 points per game over their last two, a conspicuous falloff considering they had scored 31 or more points over their previous five games.
Most of the blame should be pointed at quarterback Josh Allen, who played his worst game in a couple of years on Sunday in a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In Allen’s defense, though, the Bills’ offensive line simply has not played well this year.
As a result, Allen isn’t playing with the same confidence he had last year.
As they play the Jets Sunday in what should be an easy win, the Bills need to figure out a way to get Allen back on track.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson makes his return from the injured list this week against the Packers who, coincidentally, hope to have Aaron Rodgers back after a missing last week because of a positive COVID-19 test.
Wilson was sidelined the last five weeks after injuring the middle finger on his throwing hand. The 3-5 Seahawks need him, especially playing at Lambeau Field, where they haven’t won since 1999.
With the 8-1 Cardinals and 7-2 Rams setting the pace in the NFC West, the Seahawks can’t afford another loss.
The 7-2 Packers also need their star QB, as they are very much in the thick of the playoff race.
Addition by subtraction
Maybe it’s a coincidence, but after walking away from Odell Beckham Jr. last Friday, the Browns rolled Sunday in a 41-16 win over the Bengals.
Without the shadow of Beckham, the 5-4 Browns became just the fourth team in NFL history to record a passing touchdown, a rushing touchdown and a defensive touchdown covering 60 or more yards in the same game.
Again, maybe it’s just a coincidence. But it sure seemed like they were playing with more energy and emotion than they had shown all season. The trick now is keeping it going against a 5-4 Patriots team that is thriving recently behind rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
The 8-1 Cardinals have been doused with the pixie dust, as evidenced by the way they rolled the 49ers on Sunday with Colt McCoy subbing for an injured Kyler Murray at quarterback.
No one saw the Cardinals breaking out the way they have, and certainly no one saw them easily handling the 49ers without their starting quarterback. But it’s shaping up as one of those years in Arizona
This Sunday the Cardinals play the 4-5 Panthers, who welcome back QB Cam Newton. The way things are going for Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals, though, that likely won’t matter much.